Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria) (10:16:03) — This morning I would like to use my members statement to talk about some initiatives in the small town of Avenel. It was a pleasure to be there last week to officially open the upgraded community hall, a $400 000 project to rebuild the interior of the very historic hall. There was a great turnout by the community to celebrate the completion of that project.

One of my passions is child care. I know all too well the importance of the provision of quality childcare facilities for families, particularly those in country Victoria. So it was wonderful to visit the brilliant little kids at Avenel kindergarten and make an announcement there, in conjunction with Strathbogie Shire Council, about a half‑a‑million‑dollar upgrade to that facility. Not only is it going to provide better facilities and greater capacity but it will also introduce for the first time in the town of Avenel long day care for families as an option.

I have got to give a shout‑out to Minister Mikakos. Since December last year I have visited Chiltern, Heathcote and Avenel. These are small, growing towns that have been held back for too long because they have not had adequate provision of childcare. It is a fantastic legacy that we are creating for country communities in providing childcare because it means that families can move to these towns and they can work in these towns rather than having to move to some of the larger regional centres.